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Monday
Mar122012

Baked Falafel Wrapped in Swiss Chard

This summer I was at the Baltimore Farmer's Market. It is this awesome farmers market that sits under the Jones Fall Expressway in downtown Baltimore and features easily a hundred vendors. These vendors range from local farms selling milk and yogurt to produce stands to fresh fish and meat. There are non food vendors, selling soaps, oils, flowers, jewelry and clothes. Finally, there are a large handful of vendors who sell fresh made meals - i.e. you can eat and walk around the market buying your own food (genius!) When my dad was in town one weekend, I took him there for breakfast. He picked up the most kick butt breakfast of, yup - you guessed it, falafel wrapped in swiss chard with tons of veggies loaded up inside. You could choose either swiss chard or a tortilla to wrap it. What a smart idea this vendor had - the swiss chard provided a gluten free option for people with that allergy or simply a healthy, vegan choice for everyone else. Needless to say, this wrap rocked my world. It took me six months to get around to replicating it and I did it for dinner. I baked falafel, one of the easiest things in the world to make, whipped up a tahini sauce, chopped some tomatoes, and wrapped it in beautiful green swiss chard. It was perfect and wonderful and everything I remembered from this summer. Plus the swiss chard trick could easily be used in other dishes where you would normally use a tortilla.

Baked Falafel Wrapped in Swiss Chard

Servings: 10 pieces of falafel

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 14 oz chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp garbanzo flour
  • 6 large swiss chard leaves, green or rainbow
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, grind the chickpeas into a fine mixture.
  3. Place chickpeas in a bowl and add finely diced onions, cumin, coriander, baking powder, and garbanzo flour. Sitr.
  4. Take a baking dish and coat with nonstick cooking spray or 1 tbsp olive oil.
  5. Form the chickpea mixture into small balls, averaging 1.15 ounces or 33 grams. You should be able to make approximately 10 falafel balls. Place the falafel balls into the baking dish and place the dish in the oven.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and rotate the falafel. Bake for another 15 minutes. Check the falafel - they should be golden brown . If they aren't continue cooking in 5 minute increments until golden brown, rotating the falafel regularly. 
  7. Make the tahini sauce by placing the tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and puree until the ingredients are combined.
  8. Spread a swiss chard leaf out on a flat surface. Place 2-3 pieces of thinly sliced tomato on the leaf. Top it with 2 pieces of falafel, either crumbled or cut in half. Finish with 1-2 tsp of tahini sauce.
  9. Tightly wrap the swiss chard leaf, folding the ends in as you wrap. Cut it in half and enjoy.
Sunday
Mar112012

Noodle-less Eggplant Lasagna

I am in constant need for new things to do with eggplant. We generally eat it at least three, maybe even four times per month and it is easy to run out of creative ways to cook it. I've run the gamut, from eggplant parmesan to ratatouille to eggplant soup. This dish is a cross between lasagna and eggplant parmesan. It is layered like lasagna but has no noodles. It is reminiscent of eggplant parmesan but the eggplant isn't breaded. You get the idea. Fresh tomato sauce, thinly sliced eggplant and chopped mushrooms, some fresh kale and even a few pepperoni's thrown in on a third of the dish for the boy. Top it all with mozzarella cheese and throw it in the oven for thirty minutes. A quick, tasty, and easily disguised vegetable dish for those who aren't veggie crazy.

Noodle-less Eggplant Lasagna


  • 1 eggplant

  • 2-3 cups tomato sauce

  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms

  • 2 cups kale

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Thinly slice the eggplant length-wise into pieces no more than 1/2 inch thick.

  3. Spread approximately 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.

  4. Arrange 3-4 pieces of eggplant across the dish, alternating the direction of the eggplant.

  5. Top with 1/2-2/3 cup of chopped mushrooms and 1/2-2/3 cup of kale. (If you are using pepperoni, add it it now).

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.

  7. Ladle another 1/4-1/3 cup of tomato sauce and repeat steps 4-6.

  8. I ended up with 4 layers with 3 pieces of eggplant per layer. You can adjust yours depending on how many pieces of eggplant you get per layer.

  9. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

  10. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and the sauce is bubbling.

Thursday
Mar082012

Mashed Cauliflower

Creamy, buttery, rich mashed potatoes. Who doesn't love them. Unfortunately, they are reserved for holidays in our house. They don't fall under the category of "healthy," though like everything, there are certainly ways to make them healthier. I simply choose to eat them only laden with whipping cream, butter, and garlic. In an attempt to come up with an alternative, this is what I present to you. Mashed Cauliflower. The taste is phenomenal. The texture may leave a bit to be desired for many. Using cauliflower, you lose the creamy texture of the potatoes. Instead, you end up with a consistency/texture of grits. If you can put this aside, then you will be golden. There is no cream and no butter in this mashed recipe. The cauliflower is healthy for you, extraordinarily inexpensive, and really quick to make. So while this isn't to die for mashed potatoes, this mashed cauliflower certainly comes in a close (and far healthier) second.

Mashed Cauliflower

Servings: 4-6

Serving Size: approximately 1/2 cup

Served with Spicy Cayenne Chicken

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup plain 0% chobani
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Chop cauliflower - it does not have to be perfectly chopped. Do not discard the stems.
  3. When the water is boiling, place the chopped cauliflower in the pot. Let cook for approximately 5 minutes or until cauliflower is tender (you can pierce it easily with a fork).
  4. Drain cauliflower and immediately place it in a food processor.
  5. Add garlic, chobani, olive oil, salt and pepper to the food processor and puree until smooth. If necessary, add 1 tbsp more of chobani.
  6. Place mashed cauliflower in a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve while still hot.
Thursday
Mar082012

Spicy Cayenne Chicken

Today I have a rare meat dish for you, which means its gotta be both simple and tasty. I knew I was making Mashed Cauliflower for a side dish but clearly I needed a main dish for this dinner (at least for the boy in the house). So, what better to have on the side than a spicy chicken dish with a bit of melted cheese and fresh popped cherry tomatoes. If you prefer not to eat chicken, toss in 1-2 cups of fresh or sauteed kale and grape tomatoes for a great main dish.

Spicy Cayenne Chicken

Recipe per 4 chicken breast cutlets

Served with Mashed Cauliflower

  • Skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or a mexican shredded cheese blend)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix cumin and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  3. If you didn't buy thin chicken breast cutlets, you will want to pound your chicken breasts to make them thin. Place them in between two pieces of siran wrap, on a hard surface, and pound them until they are thin.
  4. Place pounded chicken breasts in a bowl. Coat with olive oil and spices. Mix with your hands to thoroughly coat them.
  5. Place chicken breasts in a glass baking dish. I used a 9x9 pyrex dish. Cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and add the tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle them over the chicken breasts. Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken one more time and sprinkle the cheese over top. Cook chicken for another 3 minutes.
Tuesday
Mar062012

Sushi 101: How to Roll Your Own Sushi

I love sushi. Bold, underline, italicize the love because man-oh-man, in one word, that is exactly how I feel about sushi. In every city I have lived in, I can name my favorite sushi joint. I can list off rolls like its my job and I can conjure up the exact mouthwatering taste of eating a roll. I do not, however, like the cost of sushi. Do I think it's worth it for good sushi. Sure. But does it prevent me from eating it often. Yes. On Valentine's Day four years ago, the then-boyfriend, now husband, and I decided sushi was most definitely in our cards. Rather than go out and eat it, we decided we would make it ourselves. We bought the sushi mat, did some research and cabbed it over to the fish market of choice in Chicago (Dirk's Fish Market for any Chicago readers - hands down, the best place to buy sushi grade seafood). Many many many hours later, we had 100+ pieces of sushi. No, I am not exaggerating. It was more sushi than I had ever seen in my life in a single sitting. No, it was not pretty looking and yes, it was a laborious affair that took us way too many hours but it was fun and rewarding. AND it was incredibly inexpensive (relatively speaking). It cost maybe $40-50 for all of that sushi. Obviously the cost depends on fish prices but on average you can expect to spend $5-$15 for 1/3 pound of sashimi grade seafood. Since then, we have made DIY sushi on numerous occasions and mastered some things that I deem critical to our success. The ingredients I list below are what we tend to use. Number one rule of sushi making is be flexible and be creative. If you don't like a certain vegetable, substitute it. If you see a neat fish on sale, try it. There are tons of ways to roll sushi and tons of books out there. This is just the way I do it and the recipes that work for us. Before you get completely deterred, let me tell you. Now, sushi making takes no more than an hour from start to finish. No more time than many other meals take. Don't let the length of time stop you from trying, because though it may take you awhile the first time, as with everything, you'll get better the more you do it.


Roll Your Own Sushi

Sushi for 2-6, depending on how much you eat; Roughly 30-40 pieces

Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Spicy Mayonnaise

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp siracha sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Sushi Ingredients

  • 1-2 packages of seaweed
  • 1/3 lb sashimi grade tuna
  • 1/3 lb sashimi grade salmon
  • 1/3 lb shrimp
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 jalapeno

 


  1. Make the sushi rice according to the instructions on the package. A rice maker is the easiest way to do this.
  2. When the rice is done, stir in the rice wine vinegar and sugar. Refrigerate it to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  3. While the rice is cooking, make the spicy mayonnaise. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, siracha, and sesame oil. Refrigerate.
  4. Begin cutting all of the ingredients for the rolls. There is no science to this. With the vegetables, simply cut them into thin strips, no longer than 2 inches (or use a julienne tool). For the avocado, cut it in half and remove the pit. Place the avocado flat side down, then cut it into thin slices. If you are using shrimp, cut it in half, lengthwise. With the tuna and salmon, cut it into strips, 1-2 inches long by roughly 1/4 inch thick. As I said, there is no wrong way to do this, just make sure you cut the ingredients small enough to fit inside the rolls.
  5. Prepare the seaweed rolls. The best way to do this is to cut them in half, lengthwise. What you'll end up with is 2 usable pieces per sheet of seaweed. Doing this makes rolling the sushi much easier.
  6. Place a bowl of water next to your work space. You don't need any sushi mats or plastic wrap if you don't want it.
  7. Now it's time to get rolling. Place the seaweed in front of you, vertically, so the short edge is facing you. Take roughly 1/4 cup of rice and spread it on the top 1/3 of the seaweed. Leave a 1/4 inch of space at the top and on either side. Again, see the pictures above.
  8. Add wasabi or spicy mayonnaise on top of the rice, making sure not to add too much.
  9. Choose what seafood you want to add, layering it directly on top of the rice. I recommend not stacking this too high. Instead, put only what you can fit in one or two layers.
  10. Next add the vegetables, following the same process. You don't want to overfill the roll.
  11. Dampen your fingers with the water and draw a thin line on the far end of the seaweed. By dampening this end, the roll will be easier to seal.
  12. Using two hands, begin to roll the seaweed very tightly. When you finish, push the wet end onto the roll, sealing it.
  13. Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into individual pieces. Wipe the knife in between to remove stickiness. This will make it easier to cut.
  14. You can take any extra rice and seafood and make sashimi. Form a bit of rice into a oblong shape, top it with a dollop of wasabi or spicy mayonnaise and place a small piece of fish on top of that.
  15. Enjoy!